Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
Word of the Day: DOLORES Hart (43D: Actress-turned-nun Hart) —
Rev. Mother Dolores Hart (born October 20, 1938, Chicago, Illinois) is an American Roman Catholic nun and former actress. She made 10 films in five years, playing opposite Stephen Boyd, Montgomery Clift, George Hamilton and Robert Wagner, having made her movie debut with Elvis Presley in Loving You (1957). (wikipedia)
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This one's chronological epicenter was at least a decade before I was born, but I still finished in less time than it took to do yesterday's. There are a couple of junky bits (TNTS? over EELED?? over DYE LOT??? — to say nothing of STERIC) (9D: Of atoms' spatial relationships) but overall it's a solid grid. Familiar shape, mildly interesting fill. Saturday. There it is. Take it or leave it.
Every corner had some long, low-hanging fruit, which allowed me to work my way through even toughish parts. ON THE MONEY in the NW (I got that off the "NT"), KOSHER DELI in the NE (off the "K"), STOLEN BASE in the SE (off the nothing—too easy; 30D: One of Henderson's record 1,406), and REGISTERED in the SW (off the "D"). Not to say that there wasn't some flailing around. I really lucked into that first "N" in ON THE MONEY when I wrote in IN NO at 15A: Beginning of time? (ONE O'). I was half right. Oh, I also guessed SO NICE off just the "S" up there. But I couldn't get MOBS at all (1A: Crowds around noisily), and BEER BOTTLE took a good long while to come into view (3D: One in a stag's litter), and MOST WANTED was originally LIST MAKERS (1D: Like some top-10 people); that clue just made no sense to me at all. EELED I dropped in without blinking, but I couldn't get below it, so followed FAKES OUT up into the NE—by far the easiest portion of the grid. KOSHER DELI, then NED (really TED, but who cares?) IBEX NILE STIR, all in a row. The "LR" combo helped me think of AL ROSEN (he was once the A.L. MVP, and his last name appears in the grid from time to time). Then STOLEN BASE took me down the east coast, then I moved inland to fix some errors—had SHAH for SADR (45D: Abolhassan Bani-___ (first president of Iran)) and THE FOG for I, ROBOT (59A: 1950 sci-fi classic). SE looked quite hard, but REGISTERED proved a great guess, as did (a bit later) DOLORES, and those gave me enough traction to work my way up to the Nevada region of the grid, where I finished things off with the mysterious DYE LOT (47A: Yarn identifier).
- 5A: "In the Still of the Nite" doo-wop group, with "the" (FIVE SATINS) — this is what I meant when I mentioned the puzzle's chronological epicenter. That section alone has this answer, TED Sorensen, AL ROSEN, and the 1969 ILO.
- 19A: "___ the brinded cat hath mewed": Shak. (THRICE) — pretty dang easy, esp. given a cross or two.
- 22A: Reagan-era teen, e.g. (XER) — Reagan took office when I was 11 and left when I was 19, and yet somehow my initials (MDS) weren't the right answer here.
- 63A: Mini successor (NANO) — My first thought was of the Mini Cooper. Then the skirt.
- 64A: Spy's query at the start of a meeting (ARE WE ALONE?) — even this seems like something out of the '60s. A '60s spy novel. Not to say that I don't like it, 'cause I do.
- 8D: Fifth element, per Aristotle (ETHER) — had the "TH," and from there it was an easy guess.
- 50D: Russian playwright Andreyev (LEONID) — Lots of "Names of the 20th Century" today. See also Norman Vincent PEALE (52D: Guideposts magazine founder).